November 22 2019 10:45 EST

Carnell Learning Center, Lander University

Carnell Learning Center Atrium Lander University


since 01.01.06

Introduction to Philosophical Inquiry

ReadMe 1

Abstract: Beginning study for the online course in introductory philosophy is outlined and discussed

Welcome to the Course!

A good way to begin the course is as follows: …

  1. Print out and study the PDF Syllabus and generally become familiar with the course requirements. In a nutshell, your course grade is entirely based on three "open-book" tests.
  2. I recommend printing out the PDF Syllabus even though it is over twenty pages in length. The syllabus contains very thorough information with respect to class policies, requirements, and instructions and contains detailed information about how to do well on tests. The syllabus information on tests should be reviewed before every test submission.
  3. Study the Assignment Schedule in the syllabus and become familiar with the important due dates for the three tests.
  4. Read the first weeek's assignment. The textbook for the course is not sold in the bookstore and is only online.

    (If reading the HTML pages online, be sure to re-size the window of your Internet browser so that the text is only about 65 to 70 letters across the screen. Also, if necessary, increase the font size to 10-12 by selecting the “View” drop-down menu just above the address bar of your browser. Studies show reading speed and comprehension is most effective at about that line width.) If you do not easily adapt to reading online, you might want to print out the PDF versions of specific chapters of the textbook as the semester progresses. I do recommend printing out the supplied books notes for the readings since your tests are mostly based on these "tutorials."
  5. Look over the Frequently Asked Questions for this course.

Your first week is probably the busiest week. Do not be overly concerned about a slow start. Many students are new to an online course, and to read the syllabus and become acquainted with the Website takes a few days. The most efficient way to proceed is to concentrate on one thing at a time and not try to do all things at once. Hopefully, by the end of the first full week of classes everyone will have figured out how to access and study the readings assignments for the course.

Important! As the syllabus notes, this online philosophy course is not for everyone. The course assumes that you are able to work independently and schedule time daily for reading and study. Your Web course puts a substantial burden on you to take charge of your own learning. Before continuing with this course carefully consider whether or not you are the kind of pro-active student who can motivate yourself to take charge of your own learning and who can follow written instructions carefully. You must be able to allocate at least the mininum amount of study time suggested in the syllabus for this course.

Students who study daily often do well; students who study only on weekends, or study only just before tests, cannot hope to succeed in this course because the tests require understanding and reasoning about the meaning of the philosophical concepts and principles studied. This is not a factual-type course. Grades in previous online introductory philosophy classes have proved to be “bi-modal”: about 30% are As, 25% Bs, 10% Cs, 15% D's, and 20% Fs. About half of the Fs in previous courses are due to students thinking that take-home tests can be done by simply paraphrasing online notes a few days before the test due date. The other half of the Fs occur because of academic dishonesty. In this day and age, there are an amazing variety of ways to verifiy academic honesty which range from statistical tests and file metadata to dedicated commercial programs—all of which are routinely applied by your instructor in order to assure fairness for everyone.

I realize that most students cannot fathom how copying True/False and Multiple Choice questions can be known through statistical tests. If you are interested, see the FAQ explaining how it is done.

I think objective questions are an important part of assessment, and if academic honesty could not be checked, I would not use this method of testing for an open-book test. The following document explains the methods as to the validity of these checks: Integrity Castle Rock Research. In this course, checking academic honesty for objective questions is done by Castle Rock Research Corporation a company which also assesses government civil service exams by the same statistical measures used in this course.

The key to doing well in this philosophy course is to keep up with course content on a daily basis.

The main reason some persons do not do well in this course is, I think, due to two reasons. (1) misunderstanding how to approach the "open book" and "open notes" tests (2) being unaware of how evident online paraphrasing of another person's work shows up in student work.

Unfortunately some beginning students believe that it is sufficient to briefly paraphrase the online notes and related Internet sources immediately prior to the due date of the tests because this strategy worked in high school and some college courses. In this course, the lack of understanding of what is read and written in such cases is evident from inavdertent inconsistencies, vague language, a rush to meet a deadline, and poor or inappropriate examples thought up "on the fly." What I am looking for with respect to your essays on tests is your own reconstruction and explanation of the key ideas and philosophies.

Anyone can do well in this course if he or she approaches the course in the same way as one approaches playing a sport, playing music, or learning a language. Just as it is difficult to "cram" the night before a soccer game, a tennis match, or a recital so it is likewise difficult to do well in philosophy by trying to do too much at one time.

If you think about it, one cannot “cram” for something normally learned through intermittent and extensive practice. But, of course, through frequent practice, difficult activities transform into more easily and naturally mastered activities.

If you have any trouble beginning these items listed above, email me at larchie at (convert the "at" to the "@" symbol in the address) and I'll be glad to help get started. I look forward to an exciting and fascinating semester and hope you do so as well.

Further Recommended Reading:
  • Notes on How to Study: Very brief notes on effective methods of study—a refresher summary of useful techniques.

  • The Internet Philosopher is a tutorial on the use of the Internet for studying philosophy. The tutorial covers the prominent Internet sites, how to search, what to trust, and how to maximize information skills. Other features include printer friendly pages, glossary, and a link basket, teaching resources, workbook, slide presentation, handouts, and downloadable poster. The site is authored by Stig Hansen at the University of Leeds and is a tutorial designed for UK higher education by the RDN Virtual Training Suite. For students of philosophy, the Internet Philosopher is most helpful at the beginning of the semester since the visitor quickly learns how to access some of the most useful and authoritative sites on the Internet.

  • Study Guides and Strategies: An important and useful site for how to study for different types of courses is developed and maintained by Joseph Landsberger. Sections of this site include recommendations for preparing, learning, studying, writing, classroom participation, projects. tests, and research—well worth a visit to peruse or browse.

  • Philosophy Forums is one of the very best sites for discussion of philosophical topics in all areas of philosophy. For this course, reading the "Intro to Philosophy" and the "General Philosophy" forums are especially recommended. Other forums include topics for metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, logic, mathematics, religion, language, science, politics, law, social sciences, arts, and debates on philosophical issues. Posting requires registration.
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"Philosophy is knowledge of the Universe, or of everything there is, but when we set forth on its quest, we know neither what there is, nor if what there is forms a Universe or a Multi-verse, nor whether Universe or Multi-verse will be knowable."

José Ortega y Gasset, What Is Philosophy?, trans. Mildred Adams (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1964), 90.

Relay corrections, suggestions or questions to
larchie at
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